“Hermione, what are you doing here? I thought that the castle
was empty,” Harry said, feeling rather shocked and confused as he
helped the cloak-clad witch to her feet in the Hogwarts entrance hall,
where they had just collided as he had just chased her down as she ran
towards the Great Hall.
Hermione looked at him, and shook her
head in a rather bemused way, setting her hair and hood swaying.
“Harry, of course we’re here. But I don’t think you quite realize
where here is, do you?” she said.
“Wha... what do you mean?” Harry said, feeling very confused and somewhat frustrated.
smiled, a very mysterious smile, and lifted the hood of her cloak back
up over her head. “Come,” she said from behind the heavy fabric,
“I am not allowed to say any more for now. Come with me and all
will be made clear.”
She turned and strode towards the doors
to the Great Hall. Harry followed her, muttering to himself
something along the lines of everything being made clear being a first so far in his life, but slightly more explicitly.
the doors, she walked in. Harry followed her as she walked the
length of the Great Hall into the small room past the staff table where
Harry had gone in his fourth year at the start of the Triwizard
Harry gasped as he crossed the threshold
into the room. Waiting inside were nine more cloaked and hooded
figures, standing in a line in front of the fire, a line that Harry
thought was eerily reminiscent of the Death Eater ring from Voldemort’s
rebirthing ceremony, particularly as Hermione, still in her cloak, took
her place in the line.
Looking around the room, Harry
noted that the paintings in the room were also empty of their
occupants, but aside from that, the only difference between the room
now and the last time he had been in here were the robed figures.
Harry looked them over. Hermione was mid-way down the line,
having filled in a gap that had been apparently waiting for her; the
figures were of different heights and builds beneath their cloaks, all
of whom seemed rather familiar to Harry for some reason that he
couldn’t place. Hoping he could finally get some answers, Harry took a
deep breath to steady himself and turned to face the line.
going on?” he asked. “You promised me answers, Hermione.
So?” The figures, Hermione included, remained impassive. “Why are
you standing there? What’s happening to me, to us!? Why is
the school empty!? Why are we here!?” Nothing. The
line of cloaked figures remained impassive. Harry’s temper began
to give way. He roared at them, “WHAT THE HELL...”
going on?” Ron Weasley asked the Healer rather irritably, as he
suddenly returned to Harry’s ward, with another Healer in tow, almost
literally. To his great surprise, the second Healer, a rather
petite strawberry-blond in her early to mid-thirties, turned to him and
said, rather sweetly, “We’re testing a rather worrisome theory of
Andrews’, dear (Hermione bristled). May I examine that cup,
Ron turned to face Hermione, a questioning look on
his face. Hermione nodded yes slowly, obviously reluctant to
bring someone else in on what was happening to Harry. Ron stood
up from his chair and removed from his pocket what had once been the
personal cup of Helga Hufflepuff herself and was now little more than a
blasted piece of metal and handed it to the female Healer, whose name
tag read L. Alexander.
She took it and paced around
the room several times, examining it closely, using several spells on
it that shone and sparkled different colors. Ron turned and
looked quizzically at Hermione, but even she seemed mystified.
about ten or fifteen minutes, Healer Alexander seemed to have finished
her examination of the defunct Horcrux. Turning to the other
Healer, she said softly, “Yes, Andrews, it seems that your theory was
essentially correct,” and at this statement, he seemed to be rather
appalled, “this cup was booby-trapped.”
At this, Ron
and Hermione shot up from their chairs, both shouting, “WHAT!?”
After a few moments making assorted incredulous sounds, they had both
calmed down enough to feel embarrassment at not having considered that
possibility themselves, as Ron dimly considered the fact that this was
probably the first time that Hermione had been as surprised as he was,
and at the same time. “Booby-trapped? In what way?”
Hermione asked, sounding very worried.
“I’m not quite sure,”
said the older witch with a slightly distracted air as she continued to
examine the cup closely. “All I could tell from those simple
spells was that there was an entrapment spell of some sort placed upon
this object, but as for the particulars, I can’t really say just
yet. I’ll need to run more tests on this artifact, that is, if
you two don’t mind?”
“No, please, take it, find out what you can,” Ron said, a definite note of panic in his voice.
knew what he was thinking without turning to look at him; that any sort
of hex or trap that Voldemort would place on one of his possessions did
not bode well for the victim. She cut in, “How long do you think
it will take...?” her voice and face falling at the expression on the
“Hours, at the least,” she said, now
examining the base of the cup with her wand. “However, any
information you could give me would be invaluable. It would be
highly useful, for instance, to know whose object this was, its
history, and what it was being used for,” she added. “With that
information, I could begin to narrow down possibilities and thus, tests
that I would have to perform on it.”
Ron and Hermione
exchanged worried glances, and began to fill in, for what felt like the
umpteenth time, Healer Alexander on the history of Tom Marvolo Riddle’s
quest for immortality.
Harry stood in the
small room off the Great Hall, glaring at the line of ten cloaked
figures standing in front of him. He had been shouting at them
for at least the last five minutes, demanding to know what was going
on, asking question after question with no answer or even a response of
any sort. He had, at this point, given up and was pacing back and
forth, occasionally throwing nasty glances at the line. He didn’t
know why they weren’t answering him, or who they were, or why Hermione
had joined them, or even why she, in particular, wasn’t answering his
questions, which was, as far as he could recall, a first.
(very) small part of his mind that wasn’t angry noted that, although he
had just been shouting at the top of his lungs for several minutes, he
wasn’t the slightest bit hoarse, indeed, his throat felt fine... just
like before, he had been running flat out and hadn’t even grown
tired... something very odd was going on here... and he wasn’t getting
anywhere in unraveling it by being angry...
down by an act of will, Harry decided to continue questioning
them. Maybe, just maybe, he’d get an answer from these mysterious
cloaked figures... and Percy Weasley might just join the circus and become a clown, too, sniped his temper snidely from one corner of his mind. Still, it wasn’t like he had anything to lose.
“What’s going on here?”
Dang, but he’d tried that one already, so he wasn’t expecting that to
work. Maybe questioning the particulars...
“Where is everybody else?”
“Why are all of the paintings empty?”
“Why are you standing there in those robes for?”
The only movement in the room came from the fire in the fireplace and from Harry himself.
“Why am I not tiring or going hoarse?”
Muggle still-life paintings would have been jealous of the reaction that the figures displayed.
“Why did I have to chase Hermione here?”
and on and on Harry asked questions, his temper rising at each
(non-)response. Finally, after minutes more of fruitless
questioning, it broke, and he roared again, “WHAT IS GOING ON
HERE? WHY AM I HERE? WHO ARE YOU?”
final question seemed to be the one that they were waiting for.
As one, each of the figures lifted its hands up and lowered its
hood. Harry, caught completely flat-footed, stood dumbfounded as
their faces came into view...
reigned in Harry’s private ward in St. Mungo’s when Ron and Hermione
had finished speaking. Healers Andrews and Alexander both seemed
to be exhibiting varying degrees of shock, horror, and in Alexander’s
Picking up the mangled remains of the cup
from Harry’s nightstand, where she had placed it during Ron and
Hermione’s discourse, she recommenced her examination of it.
she turned it this way and that, she said, in a slightly distracted
tone, “Thank you, that explains a lot of what I am seeing here...,” as
she cast another spell on it, then frowned as the light from the spell
turned from silver to a blood-red, her expression quite clearly
Ron and Hermione caught it, and
then exchanged similar looks with each other, worried about what this
might mean for Harry.
The Healer, any and all hints of
distraction gone from her voice and posture, strode over to Harry’s
bedside and, tapping him lightly with her wand, muttered a series of
Hermione’s jaw dropped, followed closely
by Ron’s. Hanging over the still form of their friend, suspended
in mid-air, was a highly detailed, three-dimensional diagram of his
body, showing a translucent view of Harry’s torso and chest cavity,
with lines leading away from his heart, brain, eyes, liver, lungs, and
other essential organs to graphs showing their functions, complete with
Turning to the two of them, she saw
their expressions and laughed lightly. “My mum’s a Muggle A&E
surgeon in Dublin. I got the idea for this,” indicating the image
in the air, “when I went to go and visit her a couple of years ago,
from all of the monitoring equipment that they had around the place,
and while we don’t usually need this kind of thing, when we do, like now, this spell really comes in handy.”
back at the charts and graphs in-mid air, she pointed a few of them out
to Ron and Hermione. “See that there?” indicating the lines
leading away from the image’s head “with the eye movements and the
brain waves? Muggles call that R.E.M. sleep. He’s
dreaming. Hum... That’s odd... there are two sets of brain waves
in there, but one of them looks very faint... it might almost not be
Coming out of her reverie, she turned back to the
diagram of Harry and tapped it once with her wand. Looking back
at Ron and Hermione, she said, “It’s now set to record all of Mr.
Potter’s vital signs, so, hopefully, I’ll have some more information to
work with after I’m done going over this object,” indicating the
blasted piece of metal in her other hand, “and then we can hopefully
figure out how to help Mr. Potter.”
As she went out the
door, she turned and said, “I will probably be back within the hour,
two at the most. Come Andrews, I’m going to need your assistance
After the Healers left the ward, Ron and Hermione
sat down on the comfy chairs to wait for their return. Resting
their heads on each other’s shoulders, Ron began stroking her hair as
they fought falling asleep to the sound of Harry’s heartbeat as it came
through the monitoring spell. Lub-dub...lub-dub...lub-dub...lub-dub...lub-dub... with each beat marking the graph in mid-air with a pattern of hills and valleys, etched in green. Lub-dub...lub-dub...lub-dub...lub-dub...lub-dub...lub-dub....
several minutes of listening to the rhythmic and soothing sound of
their friend’s heart, Ron turned his head and softly said into
Hermione’s ear, as though not to wake their sleeping friend, “Hermione,
what’s an A&E?”
She smirked and started explaining to Ron
about Muggle hospitals, trying not to laugh at the incredulous
expression on his face as Harry’s heartbeat continued its
metronome-like rhythm in the background.